Ohio State Football: What Braxton Miller Needs to Do to Win the Heisman Trophy

Tim BielikSenior Analyst IOctober 12, 2012

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 6:  Quarterback Braxton Miller #5 of the Ohio State Buckeyes eludes the grasp of Chase Rome #97 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers to avoid a sack in the first period at Ohio Stadium on October 6, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Through six weeks of the college football season, two names have emerged as the Heisman Trophy favorites: West Virginia's Geno Smith and Ohio State's Braxton Miller.

Both quarterbacks are pretty different players, with Smith passing with surgeon-like efficiency and Miller carving up Big Ten defenses with his legs.

Each player has a great shot at the Heisman, but Miller is right now in second place behind Smith, who still has not thrown an interception leading the Mountaineers' explosive air raid offense.

Miller does have two more seasons after this one to try to win the Heisman, and he will be the favorite next year if he doesn't hoist the trophy this time.

The fact that Miller is even a serious favorite in the Heisman race is quite amazing considering some of the struggles he went through a year ago—especially against teams like Michigan State, Purdue and Penn State among others.

The key for Miller to be more than just second-fiddle to Smith has to do with the type of impact Miller can have in the passing game.

He's already shown his passing game is improving, including this amazing throw to Devin Smith in the Week 5 win at Michigan State.

Miller just needs to continue to be assertive and authoritative throwing the football, especially stretching the field.

That throw to Smith shows that he does have the ability to throw the ball deep, but his downfield accuracy is still inconsistent. He needs to know whether he needs to overthrow or underthrow a receiver deep down the field.

His intermediate passing has come a long way, though a lot of it is due to the design of the offense where Miller can usually have quicker passing options.

The passing game looks to be expanding every week, and the tight ends are becoming more of an option than in recent years. Miller needs to continue to improve his passing because at some point, teams are going to find a way to keep him contained and not let him run wild like he has all season.

What makes this tough for opponents is Miller's elusiveness and explosiveness. He can cut on a dime and his field vision and ability to make reads is only getting better and better.

He has six games left to stake his claim for the Heisman, but he may also need help from anyone in the Big 12 that can slow down Smith and the Mountaineers.

A bad game by Smith combined with great games by Miller can make this more of a two-horse race than it is.

All Miller needs to do to improve his chances is build off the things he's been doing so far and continue to make plays.

Going undefeated wouldn't hurt either, especially considering how Ohio State faces no teams that are currently ranked to finish the season.


Follow me on Twitter @bielik_tim for the latest college football news and updates.